Stretches for the Anterior Scalene

Stretches for the Anterior Scalene

Your scalene muscles are located on either side of your neck in three separate parts. The posterior scalene is toward the back, the mid scalene is down the sides and the anterior scalene closer to the front. All three scalene muscles can get tight from excessive sitting and computer work, causing head, neck or back aches. Your anterior scalene may not tighten as easily as the others, but regular stretching is still a wise choice to prevent the pain that stiffness causes and to increase the range of motion in your neck.


When your neck is in a fixed position, your anterior scalene muscle lifts your first rib to help you breathe easier. The muscle also helps you bend your neck forward and sideways and rotate your head to the opposite side.

Ear to Shoulder

Sit in a comfortable position or stand, and then slowly bend your head sideways so your ear moves toward your shoulder. Moving your ear to your shoulder will stretch your mid scalene along the side of your neck first. Feel the side stretch for a few moments, then gently tilt your head back to feel the stretch in your anterior scalene at the front. Hold that stretch for several seconds and repeat on the other side.

Hand Behind Back

To begin this stretch, sit or stand and place your right hand behind your lower back with your palm facing outward and thumb toward the ceiling. Turn your head over to your left and lean your head back to feel the stretch. Hold it for several seconds and repeat on the other side.

Looking to Side

Sit or stand in a comfortable position and look to your right. Drop your right shoulder down and lean your head back and slightly angled to the side. Feel the stretch in the front of your neck for several seconds, and then repeat the same movement on the other side.


Performing the stretches in a hot shower may help loosen the muscles and help you get more out of the experience. If at any time you feel dizzy or faint from stretching your scalenes, stop immediately and sit down.